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Subject: Starting with "dummy" crystals: is it bad? rss

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Boris Dvorkin
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In the solo game, the dummy player starts with three crystals. The hero card shows which crystals those are. The person who taught me the game got many of the rules wrong, and one of the errors was that we all started with the dummy crystals.

When I read the rules in my own copy and discovered the error, I was sad! Not for any good objective reason, of course, but because starting with crystals was bad-ass. It added to the asymmetry of the game (the heroes all have different crystals -- two in their "primary" color and one other one), and gave the players more options and more power in the early turns. The starting crystals also strengthened the theme of the game, as they ensured each hero could cast spells and perform advanced actions of "their" color, but had a harder time using those of the "opposing" colors.

I'm teaching the game to a foursome soon, and I have to say I'm tempted to repeat this particular rule error. Are there any devastating consequences I should be aware of? I conjecture that three starting crystals might add so much power to the early turns that heroes going late in the turn order would be screwed, but I thought perhaps that players with more experience would be able to offer greater insight.

Thank you for your help!
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Paul Grogan
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Just that the game will be easier... But it should work ok. Just increase the city levels if you find it too easy.
 
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Chris Linneman
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Boarass wrote:
I conjecture that three starting crystals might add so much power to the early turns that heroes going late in the turn order would be screwed


This is more likely under your variant, especially in a 4-player game. Normally you need a Great Start or a really lucky starting hand to be able to kill an orc in turn one without taking wounds. With your variant it will be easy, and choosing to go early in the turn order will be a no-brainer to whoever is lucky enough to have the choice.
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Matt
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that is an interesting mistake that led to a pretty cool variant

I can see how this would make a pretty significant difference in starting out, giving you a jump start, could come in handy if you are playing a shorter days scenario.

The only concern would be if this would overpower the people going first, would be interesting to see how this played out.

Matt
 
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Chris J Davis
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I've often wondered about this variant, and thought that maybe it wouldn't unbalance the start *too* much. I mean, you *could* use those crystals on the first orc you come across, but it seems a bit of a waste. I'd rather keep them for when they're really needed.
 
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Jeff Thompson
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Where did they get those crystals?

Mana crystals seem to be inherent to Atlantea. Sure, these MK can use them for things, but perhaps these abilities are powered differently in other worlds. This is why they come to Atlantea sans crystals.

I have this theory that slightly tweaking the setting of MK would make it a lesser game.

For example, if this game was about 1st level dudes swinging short swords and casting Magic Missiles... well the game would suck.
 
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Chris Linneman
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bleached_lizard wrote:
I've often wondered about this variant, and thought that maybe it wouldn't unbalance the start *too* much. I mean, you *could* use those crystals on the first orc you come across, but it seems a bit of a waste. I'd rather keep them for when they're really needed.


This is a snowball game, so I think it's actually better to use the crystals as soon as needed in most cases, if it allows you to avoid wounds/level up/recruit a better unit. Most importantly, it may deny a potential source of fame to an opponent. Fame sources can be scarce, especially in 4p games.
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Scott Lewis
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Tompy wrote:
Where did they get those crystals?

Mana crystals seem to be inherent to Atlantea. Sure, these MK can use them for things, but perhaps these abilities are powered differently in other worlds. This is why they come to Atlantea sans crystals.

In the original lore, the "crystals" didn't exist; the power of the Atlantis Guild (which became the Atlantean Empire) was Magestone. They integrated it very heavily into a lot of stuff, from their floating cities, their Golems and weaponry, and even embedded into the heads of their mages.

However, while Atlantis was certainly obsessed with Magestone and was definitely the primary users of it, it wasn't exclusive to Atlantis - it's power was used by a lot more. The Orcs, for instance, had some of their shamans chew on it to help increase their magical power. Many other weapons were crafted with it, etc.

What the "crystals" represent, I don't know; solidified "mana", I guess, but that certainly isn't something that would be unique to Atlantis, either, so it's definitely not something that couldn't be brought with them.

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I have this theory that slightly tweaking the setting of MK would make it a lesser game.

I doubt it; they pretty significantly twisted the original setting of MK, and despite my strong distaste for the story behind the new setting, apparently it hasn't suffered any loss in game quality. (As a game, I think it's very fun; I just personally think it's more a game "based on Mage Knight" than a true successor to Mage Knight).
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Jeff Thompson
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I'd be very curious about this original setting.

I have described the pre-determined outcome of combat as "Knowing whether or not a horde of rampaging orcs is too much for the Mage Knight (not in the cards so to speak), or merely fodder for some pre-breakfast sword practice is the bread and butter of the Mage Knight."

Maybe it would work for a more gritty setting, but I have to say that I like the new setting.

Two things turned me toward this game. First that it was NOT just another WizKidsClikGimik game. And second, Vlaada's name on the box. Both of which were discovered by chance at different times. Luckily I found out soon enough to get in on the 2nd printing.

 
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Guy Srinivasan
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I like the idea in theory, which is really weird for me. Usually when I read a variant my first reaction is "what why would you even have you ever actually played please stop".

As previous commenters have said, this appears to have the following effects:

1. Adds theme and instant character differentiation!
2. Makes the game much easier. Crystals are like handsize and this will significantly change the snowballing dynamics.
3. Possibly has dangerous effects on the early turns.

It feels like increasing City level and doing something to reduce first-player advantage on the first turn can make up for the problems. What about player 1 gets -1 move on turn 1, player 2 0 move, 3 +1 move, 4 +2 move, and reveal one extra tile at the start of the game?

Or better yet, someone who's played correctly a number of times try this out a couple times and report back on what the real issues end up being.
 
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Scott Lewis
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Tompy wrote:
I'd be very curious about this original setting.

...

Maybe it would work for a more gritty setting, but I have to say that I like the new setting.

The game could have worked fine in the original setting, with some story modifications. I could go on a long rant about the original setting, but if you are interested, GeekMail me and I can give you a synopsis of the prior setting and what I don't like about the new setting (so as not to clutter these threads).

Note that the original Mage Knight WAS a clicky game, but there was also a fairly rich story behind it (especially after the "2.0" era). Granted, not "Lord of the Rings" rich, but still pretty good and unique (and unfortunately, I feel like a lot of what made it unique was stripped out).

Quote:
Two things turned me toward this game. First that it was NOT just another WizKidsClikGimik game. And second, Vlaada's name on the box.

The Vlaada bit was definitely was kept me interested in the game. I didn't care so much that it wasn't a clicky game, but I'll admit, the drastic change in the backstory almost turned me off. In fact, if has been nearly any other designer, I would not have looked back, but Vlaada is a great designer (and a great person in general), and that was enough to convince me that even if I hate the "new" setting, I can enjoy this particular game for what it is.


EDIT: For what it's worth, in the interest of disclosure, my avatar is one of the original Mage Knight figures, the Solonavi Shade.
 
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Philip Moerenhout
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I like this "error" as well.

One possible way to balance it out would be to give each player a different amount of starting Crystals based on the order they act in.

Acting 1 st : no free crystals
Acting 2nd : 1 free crystal
Acting 3rd : 2 free crystals
Acting 4th : 3 free crystals
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Guy Srinivasan
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Borg wrote:
I like this "error" as well.

One possible way to balance it out would be to give each player a different amount of starting Crystals based on the order they act in.

Acting 1 st : no free crystals
Acting 2nd : 1 free crystal
Acting 3rd : 2 free crystals
Acting 4th : 3 free crystals

IMO this gives way too much to whoever draws an initial hand that doesn't mind going last. The first free crystal is worth ~2 cards, the difference between 0 and 3 free crystals is ~5 cards, which feels like way too much. Plus then going first means you don't get your character's specialties!
 
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Michael Kefauver
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And don't forget that the lower turn order cards tend to be more powerful, so that would be double the advantage... Unless you mean whoever chooses last turn one gets the crystals, and even then, that seems like a lot.
 
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Jeff Thornsen
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If you really wanted to test this, I would try starting with just 1 crystal of the player's color, not all 3 dummy crystals.
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Boris Dvorkin
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I figure I'll just play it straight tonight -- I'm skeptical of variants in general, and as awesome as it'd be to get free crystals, I should probably play by the original rules correctly at least once before messing around.

Jeff, I had a similar idea shortly after I made this thread. Giving each player 1 or maybe 2 crystals in "their" color would reduce the power swing while maintaining the thematic benefits.
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Georg D.
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Has anyone tested this variant yet?

A member of my gaming group bought this game rcently so I hope to play it soon. As I'm all for asymmetric starting skills I would like to play a variant where the characters feel more different. But I don't want to mess with the gamebalance to easy...
 
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Michael Pustilnik
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Lack of crystals make the early turns of the game extremely challenging, and require the players to choose their enemies wisely. Without crystals, players must often take wounds in order to get to level 2. When and how to do this properly requires experience and good judgment.

Starting a player with any number of crystals would indeed make the Mage Knights more badass, but it also destroys the early game strategy. It also might tend to reduce the sense of accomplishment of the player when his or her character does reach a high level.

I strongly recommend against starting a mage knight with any crystals. When I teach a new player the game, the first game we play is the Walkthrough scenario. The second game we play is the Full Conquest. We play this game with a handicap; but rather than starting him with crystals, I start myself at negative fame. This way, I handicap myself without making the game less challenging or interesting for the new player.

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Georg D.
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you have some valid points. Perhaps it could be rebalanced by letting heroes Mage Knights start with one wound in their hands. So they are more badas due to any chrystal but are also hindered by the wound. I don't know if it is a good idea a not every hero has the same problem dealing with wounds...

I think it would be better to drop this idea although I find the idea of having a chrystal from start on very tempting.
 
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may be all player could have a sort of steal mana (so 1 dices of their double colour card and one crystal of the same color and one mana token of the remaining colour )) and just 2 dices on source ! But you have to roll al least one stolen die in first turn.
If one player take mana steal tactic there is only one die in source !
This resolve the advantage to be first player,but could mess a little for movement for some Mages...

Or ummy crystals are bonus to get spell without paying that colour mana
 
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